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Hark! A Vagrant is a webcomic created by cartoonist Kate Beaton. Having previously earned a bachelor’s degree in history, much of the humor in Beaton’s comics comes from comedic depictions of historical figures and scenes, although she does occasionally post about more contemporary subjects, such as superhero comics and Nancy Drew books.
Beaton originally created the comics for her university newpaper, The Argosy. In 2007 she began uploading these comics onto her LiveJournal Beatonna and the now defunct Katebeaton.com. On March 12th, 2009 she moved her comics to their current location, a webcomic titled Hark! A Vagrant, the first comic uploaded titled “Duchamp” about the French surrealist.
Kate Beaton’s work on the comic has achieved critical acclaim, with her first independently-released collection of comics Never Learn Anything About History winning the 2009 Doug Wright Award for best emerging talent. Her work on the comic has also been nominated for Joe Shuster awards in 2009 and 2010 and for a Harvey Award in 2010, before finally winning the Harvey Award for Best Online Comic in 2011 and 2012.
Kate Beaton’s comics are a frequent source of parody online, with her comics often redrawn to change the characters to those of a different series. Series which have been featured in these redraws include among others, Sherlock, Mass Effect, Homestuck, and Adventure Time. There even exists a whole tumblr devoted to Homestuck versions of Hark! A Vagrant strips.
Kate Beaton has expressed her dissatisfaction with the creation of these redrawn comics on her Twitter, although much of her displeasure comes more from the lack of credit she gets from these spoofs, a problem she has with image-stealing tumblrs as well.
However, since expressing her disdain, she had changed her stance on how her images can be used, and expressed that she wished she had not done so, and explained that she enjoys seeing derivatives of her work.
There is something I want to talk about. No big deal. It’s basically this: I don’t care if people trace my comics for fun.
My comics often get traced with characters replaced. They get turned into memes. That’s a thing that happens, and I guess my particular easy-to-copy style (let’s be honest, Leonardo da Vinci, I am not) and gag comic format makes that easy! I have, in the past, voiced displeasure at this, only because the joke and the drawings would be traced without my name anywhere on it and shared a jillion times. I think when it started happening a lot, I was seeing it everywhere, and didn’t know what to make of it.
If you go to a site like Know Your Meme, there are even my words there saying so! PRESERVED FOREVER, to my embarrassment.
I can’t deny those are my words, but hey, we all have bad days. I wish I never did say them, but I don’t even know when I did, only that it was some years ago. Guess I was really down about memewhore! Memewhore, what a nemesis!
The thing about saying anything on the internet is that it lives forever. But the thing about living on the earth is, your opinions can change over time, and also, you have good days and bad days where you are a cranky poo poo head on twitter. Twitter is basically the worst thing to have within arms reach when you’re cranky.
And because things that you say live on the internet forever, I still get people talking about how these traced comics upset me, because for all they know, I said that yesterday. But nah, I’m fine, I’m good. I’ve even said this before! On this very same subject. If the Know Your Meme people are listening, they can take note (please do!). Because, I feel really crummy whenever it comes up again and someone says “just so you know she HATES THAT.” No I don’t. It’s harmless. Have fun.
And try not to say dumb things on twitter that will be attached to your life forever. That’s my advice of the week.
Ooh Mr X
By far the most popular Hark! A Vagrant comic for edits, “Ooh Mister Darcy” is a comic parodying the large amounts of fanfiction that has been written about the works of Jane Austen, specifically her novel Pride and Prejudice. Originally drawn as a simple throwaway picture included in a LiveJournal update, Beaton encouraged others to draw their own versions in the post. The resulting pictures which have been made since the comic was first posted have featured characters from a wide range of media, including My Little Pony, Back to the Future and even the musicians DeadMau5 and Skrillex.
John Watson is Made of Jam, Kittens, and Rage
The Hark! A Vagrant comic, “The Case of the Two Watsons” has been credited with helping start the tumblr meme, “John Watson and his Jam”, which is closely associated with “Martin Freeman/John Watson is made of Jam, Kittens, and Rage”.
Due to the popularity of her comics, a number of panels from the comic have become popular reaction images on websites such as tumblr. The phrases used in these panels have also gained usage in various image macros.
- I Had Fun Once And It Was Awful comes from a collection of comics titled “Juarez and Maximilian” about the former emperor and president of Mexico.
- Then I Will Sit Here Consumed With Lust originates from a comic parodying Pride and Prejudice titled “Too Much Austen”, with the famous panel depicting a sexually frustrated Mr. Darcy.
- What If X Orbits Y originates from a comic titled “Tycho That Was Uncalled For”, which parodies a conversation between German astronomer Johannes Kepler and his former teacher Tycho Brahe, discussing whether the earth orbits the sun or vice-versa.
Search interest starts in July 2008. After a steady rise, it shows a large peak in September 2009, after which search interest has stayed somewhat stable.